3/04/2014

Update to take over the world...

At the release of the iOS App Store in mid july 2008, developers created apps and sold them like you would any videogame, as a premium purchase. Most of us remember the original Angry Birds was sold at $0.99 and for a game of that quality that sounded almost too good to be true. 

With the rise of the F2P era developers started releasing their games for free but made a crucial mistake. A mistake that top selling apps are avoiding through one 'simple' rule: Frequent updates. This post discusses some meaningful and effective ways to keep that revenue flowing. This is exemplified through some apps that didn't exactly commit a crime, but robbed themselves. 




Let start by looking at someone who is doing it right. Kiloo's Subway Surfers was released on a thursday, the 24th of May 2012 (App Annie), almost two years ago. Subway Surfers is still at the top of the charts and is averaging approx. 1-1,5 million new installs every day, exceeding 400 million installs over the span of its lifetime. Yet the endless runner was featured as 'Best New Game' in the App Store several times already in 2014. How can this be? What about Flappy Super Heroes? or Splashy Granny? One simple answer.


Frequent updates!

Subway Surfers is current at version 1.19, meaning nineteen major updates, obviously including some added content of the occasional change in gameplay or complexity through a hard currency (keys). But while the new content might have given new and existing players some to spend their money on, the simple fact that an update was made had a much larger impact on an constant flow of new installs, with the feature as 'Best New Games'. With 19 updates, naturally published prior to a global holiday, in 22 months, Subway Surfers has established a renewed interest from existing players and let the logics of the App Store, and possibly some cross promotion, take care of getting new customers to the store. So my point is this;


If you want to highfive Kiloo, Supercell and King at the 'Winners of the App Store' conference, start updating your app. Now!  


Let me give you a few examples of top grossing games that forgot to do this and paid for it.

Gameloft's Despicable Me: Minion Rush quickly went to the top of the chart after release. With the familiar gameplay and the cuteness of the characters from Universal Pictures, they managed to create revenue in no time. At the beginning of december it is natural for most top grossing apps to release a Christmas version of the game, and so did Gameloft. But when do people stop caring about christmas? around the time we sing the last vers of Auld Lang Syne at new years. Gameloft only released an un-christmas version of Minion Rush on the 26th of January. 

The screen shot below shows Minion Rush's chart position from the 1st of December 2013 through January 2014. Notice the hit Minion Rush takes around the weekend of the 5th of January. 


Another example is actually also from Gameloft. Blitz Brigade has still to this day, March 4th, not updated since primo December. From the screenshot below you can actually see that it has 'only' dropped around 30 spots on the grossing ranks over the course of three months, which probably is an indicator that players really enjoy the game. But why not stay in top 30? why not aim for top 10? The revenue might still be piling up, but the potential of new players must be declining every day. The calendar says it spring time, we even had an ever romantic valentine's holiday in the meantime. Who is going the install an app which icon is a 7 foot henchman wearing a woolen christmas hat? 


in conclusion. The time where you made a videogame, released it and leaned back F5ing you're account summary, is over. The work does not stop after release. Bear in mind that you don't have to invent new gameplay or redo graphics every month. Updating an app infinitely increases the chances of success, lets people find you in the app store. So do yourself a favor and do not let the wrong mindset stand in the way of possible world domination.

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